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News on the Lawyers and Legal Professionals of Texas
Updated: 28 min 26 sec ago

TYLA Director Spotlight: Michael J. Ritter

Sat, 01/25/2020 - 23:01

Editor’s Note: In this blog series, we are getting to know the members of the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. TYLA, commonly called the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas, works to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All TYLA programs are accomplished through the volunteer efforts of its board and committee members, with the cooperation of local affiliate young lawyers associations. Learn more at tyla.org.

Name: Michael J. Ritter

Firm: 4th Court of Appeals (San Antonio)

Area of Law You Practice: Civil Appellate Law, Criminal Appellate Law

Position Held in TYLA: Secretary

How did you get involved in bar service? I was spending too much time watching Netflix. I was able to get involved easily by going to local affiliate happy hours and CLE lunches and asking others how to get involved in bar service.

What is your favorite TYLA project and why? “And Justice for All” (see http://tylajusticeforall.com/) is a website resource dedicated to information about wrongful convictions, which can threaten the legitimacy of any justice system. Most people don’t know you can buy an “And Justice for All” license plate that funds pro bono legal services.

What tips can you give to other attorneys to manage stress? When the anxiety and panic sets in, I take three to 10 deep breaths. It temporarily gets my mind off of whatever is causing me stress and allows me to revisit the matter in a calmer state of mind.

What do you do in your spare time? I spend time with my family and friends and play Smash Brothers and Skyrim VR.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? The weekend before Halloween each year, I participate in a “Thriller” flash mob.

Anything else that you wish to share? Getting involved in bar or community service does not mean you have to give up all your free time. Even small efforts to help others can go a long way and connect you to other lawyers and your community. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to get involved in bar or community service.

State Bar educates public about improper solicitation by an attorney after Houston explosion

Fri, 01/24/2020 - 14:42

The State Bar of Texas reminds the public that in many cases it is a crime in Texas for a lawyer or someone representing a lawyer to contact a person for purposes of legal representation if the person has not first requested the call or personal visit. The contact is not illegal if the attorney is not seeking payment or has a preexisting professional-client or family relationship with the person being contacted.

Please view and share a public service announcement about barratry here.

If you witness something you believe to be improper solicitation, or barratry, please get the name and phone number of the person making the contact and report it to your local law enforcement authority or to the State Bar of Texas Chief Disciplinary Counsel’s Office toll free at 866-224-5999.

Kenda Culpepper takes office as president of TDCAA

Wed, 01/22/2020 - 13:00

Kenda Culpepper, Rockwall County’s district attorney, took office as the Texas District & County Attorneys Association’s 82nd president.

The non-profit organization, which serves Texas prosecutors and their staffs, produces CLE courses, provides technical assistance to the prosecution community and criminal justice agencies, and serves as a liaison between prosecutors and other organizations in administering criminal justice. TDCAA represents over 6,000 prosecutors, investigators, and personnel in Texas.

“I am humbled to have been elected by my peers across Texas and so proud to represent the thousands of prosecutors, investigators, and other personnel who work in offices from Houston to El Paso and the Panhandle to the southern border,” Culpepper said in an article published in the Blue Ribbon News. “I take very seriously the responsibility of leading this organization—an organization manned by public servants who are vested with prosecuting the worst of the worst and helping to keep our communities safe. I am truly inspired by so many of my colleagues and look forward to collaborating with them to further the interest of justice across our great state.”

Culpepper also serves on the Texas Bar College Board of Directors as well as leadership teams combating issues such as family violence and child abuse. She is the president of the board of directors of the Children’s Advocacy Center for Rockwall County.

TYLA Director Spotlight: Jay Forester

Sun, 01/19/2020 - 00:00

Editor’s Note: In this blog series, we are getting to know the members of the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. TYLA, commonly called the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas, works to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All TYLA programs are accomplished through the volunteer efforts of its board and committee members, with the cooperation of local affiliate young lawyers associations. Learn more at tyla.org.

Name: Jay Forester

Firm: Forester Haynie

Area of Law You Practice: Plaintiff’s Wage and Hour; Mass and Class Actions

Position Held in TYLA: District 5, Place 3 Director, Co-Chair of Member Outreach/Service to the Profession

How did you get involved in bar service?

Dallas Association of Young Lawyers Wellness Committee

What is your favorite TYLA project and why?

I Was the First. You Can Be a Lawyer Too!(see iwasthefirst.tyla.org). When kids see lawyers that look like them and were also the “first” in their families, it shows them that they too can be the first.

What tips can you give to other attorneys to manage stress?

  1. Minimize inputs/set boundaries. (1) Take five, five-minute breaks a day. (2) Limit how often you check your work email/texts. (3) It’s good/necessary to say no!
  2. Work in blocks. (1) 30-45 minutes/task. (2) Take breaks between tasks. (3) Increase efficiency by grouping life tasks.

What do you do in your spare time?

Travel, run, fantasy football (I finished first place in my 12-team league).

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’d rather eat at Waffle House.

Anything else that you wish to share?

#workshouldntsuck

 

State Bar of Texas expands partnership with Fastcase

Thu, 01/16/2020 - 08:55

Free access to Fastcase’s nationwide legal research system is now available to all active members of the State Bar of Texas.

For the past six years, State Bar of Texas members practicing in solo and small firms have enjoyed unlimited access to Fastcase’s nationwide legal research content as a free member benefit. Members practicing at firms with 11 or more attorneys were permitted limited access to Texas content and select federal offerings. Now, the State Bar is expanding the benefit to provide nationwide legal research to its entire membership. The complete scope of coverage is available at fastcase.com/coverage.

Starting today, Fastcase and the State Bar of Texas are providing each of the approximately 105,000 lawyers, judges, and legal professionals who are members of the State Bar with complimentary access to one of the largest law libraries in the world. This updated member benefit provides access to Fastcase’s robust primary law database, a service that includes unlimited printing, webinar training, and reference support; it is not restricted by time or number of transactions.

The member benefit includes state and federal caselaw, as well as comprehensive access to statutes and regulations at both the state and federal levels. This content is augmented by Fastcase’s patented software, which makes legal research smarter and easier, including its Interactive Timeline visualization of search results, “Forecite” to suggest cases researchers may have missed, and Bad Law Bot, the leading algorithmic tool to identify negative case treatment.

“The State Bar of Texas is committed to providing benefits to Texas lawyers that enhance their practices and help them better serve clients,” 2019-2020 State Bar President Randy Sorrels said in a news release. “Expanding our member benefit with Fastcase is an excellent example of the State Bar working for Texas lawyers and the public.”

Texas is one of 33 states, and dozens of metro, county, and specialty bar associations, that offer Fastcase’s smarter legal research tools as a free benefit to members. Through state bar partnerships, Fastcase is made available at no charge to more than 900,000 lawyers, nearly three-quarters of all lawyers in the U.S. Many of the largest law firms in the country also subscribe to Fastcase, as well as the majority of U.S. law schools and leading corporate counsel.

Legal researchers can extend their capabilities in Fastcase by opting in to integrated products, such as Full Court Press publications, data analytics and docket updates via Docket Alarm, bankruptcy and workflow tools through NextChapter, lawyer directory information from Modern Attorney, and artificial intelligence tools within the AI Sandbox, plus access to licensed secondary materials through Wolters Kluwer/Aspen/CCH and other publishers.

“Fastcase is very excited about bringing our premium service to some of the largest firms in the world in Texas,” Fastcase President Phil Rosenthal said in a news release. “We know our unique analytics, visualization tools, and other advanced features will help firms of all sizes find what they need faster than with other services, and most importantly help ensure that lawyers do not miss the documents they need most. We are especially pleased to broaden our relationship with the State Bar of Texas, one of the most well-run and innovative organizations in the legal profession.”

State Bar of Texas Judicial Poll

Tue, 01/14/2020 - 06:00

The State Bar of Texas will conduct a judicial poll from January 14 through February 4, 2020. The races include contested primaries for the Texas Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and the courts of appeals from the various judicial districts throughout the state. The poll will be conducted electronically, and e-ballots will be emailed to all Texas attorneys who are in good standing. Be sure to check your spam filter if you do not receive the email. Attorneys may also vote online at the link below. If you prefer a paper ballot, please call 866-720-4357 or send an email to sbothelp@electionservicescorp.com. Request a paper ballot no later than January 21 to ensure adequate postal delivery time. All ballots must be received by 5 p.m. CST on February 4.

Go here to vote in the 2020 judicial poll.

Robert Tobey elected Dallas Bar Association President

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 13:30

Robert Tobey, of Johnston Tobey Baruch, has been elected president of the Dallas Bar Association. Tobey was sworn in as the 111th president on January 11 and will lead the DBA in 2020.

Tobey was chair of the DBA Board of Directors in 2016 and has served on the board since 2012. He was the co-chair of the 2014-2015 Equal Access to Justice Campaign. He has served as chair and board adviser to various DBA committees and sections.

Robert Tobey

Also serving on the board are President-elect Aaron Tobin, of Condon Tobin Sladek Thornton; First Vice President Karen McCloud, of Karen D. McCloud; Second Vice President Cheryl Camin Murray, of Katten Muchin Rosenman; Secretary/Treasurer Monica Lira Bravo, of Lira Bravo Law; and Immediate Past President Laura Benitez Geisler, of Sommerman, McCaffity, Quesada & Geisler.

The DBA Board of Directors includes Vicki D. Blanton, of AT&T; Rob Cañas Jr., of Lisa E. McKnight; Jonathan Childers, of Lynn Pinker Cox & Hurst; Dallas Women Lawyers Association President Stephanie Gause Culpepper, of ORIX USA Corp.; Rocio Garcia Espinoza, of Rosewood Property Company; Dallas Hispanic Bar Association President Isaac Faz, of the Dallas County Community College District; Sakina Rasheed Foster, of Haynes and Boone; Dallas Association of Young Lawyers President Justin Gobert, of Education Futures Group; Hon. Martin Hoffman, of the 68th District Court; Krisi Kastl, of Kastl Law; Kathleen Kilanowski, of Cagle Carpenter Hazelwood; Bill Mateja, of Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton; Hon. Audrey Moorehead, of Dallas County Criminal Court No. 3; Lindsey Rames, of Rames Law Firm; Mary Scott, of LeBoeuf Law; Dallas Asian American Bar Association President Andrew Spaniol, of Howard & Spaniol; J.L. Turner Legal Association President KoiEles “Koi” Spurlock, of Parkland Health & Hospital System; and Amy M. Stewart, of Stewart Law Group.

For more information about the DBA, go to dallasbar.org.

TYLA Director Spotlight: Brandon Draper

Sat, 01/11/2020 - 23:01

Editor’s Note: In this blog series, we are getting to know the members of the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. TYLA, commonly called the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas, works to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All TYLA programs are accomplished through the volunteer efforts of its board and committee members, with the cooperation of local affiliate young lawyers associations. Learn more at tyla.org.

Name: Brandon Draper

Firm: Harris County Attorney’s Office

Area of Law You Practice: Civil Rights/Employment

Position Held in TYLA: At-Large Director, Co-Chair of the National Trial Competition (NTC) Committee

How did you get involved in bar service?

Volunteered to work NTC four years ago through Zeke Fortenberry.

What is your favorite TYLA project and why?

Texas Courts for Texas Veterans (see https://tyla.org/resource/texas-courts-for-texas-veterans/). Helping an extremely deserving community.

What tips can you give to other attorneys to manage stress?

Don’t let it fester. Find a constructive way to handle it.

What do you do in your spare time?

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I write for a men’s style website.

Texas Bar Journal Must-Reads for January

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 16:00

Start 2020 off right with the Texas Bar Journal. Our editorial staff has you covered with must-reads from the January issue with a review of developments in caselaw in 2019, discussion on civility in the face of zealous advocacy, and, of course, Disciplinary Actions, Movers and Shakers, and Memorials.

2019 Year in Review
The year brought significant developments to the legal profession and caselaw.

Staying Civil in an Adversarial Profession?
These lawyers say it’s possible. An excerpt from the State Bar of Texas Podcast.

Aiming for the Moon
Professionalism Starts with who we understand ourselves to be.
By Frank E. Stevenson

Hard Rock and Hair Metal
Rockwall attorney Nathan Majors channels the music of the’80s
Interview by Adam Faderewski

Legislative and campaign law approved as newest Texas Board of Legal Specialization specialty area

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 12:30

The Texas Supreme Court approved legislative and campaign law as the newest Texas Board of Legal Specialization specialty area. It will join the other 24 areas of specialization already approved.

Texas is the first state in the country to approve specialization in legislative and campaign law. Attorneys who wish to earn certification must have extensive experience in this area of law, complete a specified number of CLE hours in the specialty area, and pass an exam. The new specialization will focus on legislative procedures, campaign finances, lobby laws, and mechanisms of government.

The certification effort was led by Andy Cates, former State Bar Legislative and Campaign Section chair.

“Our intent with this specialization is to help build trust in lawyers that practice in this area of law by finally establishing a standard baseline for those claiming to be specialists in the area,” Cates said in a press release.

Current State Bar Legislative and Campaign Section Chair Elizabeth Hadley will serve on the committee to develop the application for the certification and to vet exam applicants. A separate committee will oversee the exam’s creation.

“It’s great to have legislative and campaign law formally recognized in Texas as a legal specialization,” Hadley said in a press release. “As this specialization is the first and only legal specialization in this area of law in the country, I’m honored to be a part of this historic moment in time.”

To find out more about the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, go to tbls.org.

In Memoriam

Mon, 01/06/2020 - 15:43

The State Bar of Texas’ Membership Department was informed in December 2019 of the deaths of these members. We join the officers and directors of the State Bar in expressing our deepest sympathy.

Charles L. Almond, 70, of Houston, died November 16, 2019. He received his law degree from Vanderbilt University Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1974.
Paul G. Ash Jr., 66, of Dickinson, died November 17, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1980.
Leticia Barguiarena, 66, of San Benito, died October 9, 2019. She received her law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1988.
Cynthia Fay Bell, 63, of Dallas, died December 6, 2019. She received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1981.
Charlene A. Berry, 87, of Fort Worth, died November 11, 2019. She received her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1959.
C.R. Kit Bramblett, 87, of El Paso, died November 13, 2019. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1976.
Leon Breeden, 62, of San Marcos, died October 28, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1983.
Allan R. Conge, 65, of Houston, died November 29, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1990.
Durwood D. Crawford, 88, of Dallas, died November 13, 2019. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1959.
Jack R. Crews, 62, of Temple, died June 8, 2019. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1984.
Gordon E. Davenport Jr., 68, of Friendswood, died August 25, 2019. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1976.
Kaye Holland Edwards, 64, of San Angelo, died August 3, 2019. She received her law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1985.
Frank G. Evans III, 91, of Bastrop, died November 9, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1951.
Edward Louis Friedman, 57, of Houston, died July 19, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1987.
Dan Hoffman, 66, of Houston, died October 20, 2019. He received his law degree from South Texas College of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1979.
Kathleen B. Inglish, 104, of Fort Worth, died November 4, 2019. She was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1936.
Nicholas A. Irsfeld, 83, of Palo Pinto, died November 20, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1962.
J. Crawford Kerr, 66, of El Paso, died December 7, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1978.
George Lerew, 34, of Wichita Falls, died December 20, 2017. He received his law degree from Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2015.
Frank O. McClendon III, 73, of Tyler, died November 8, 2018. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1973.
L. Mark McMillon, 51, of Plano, died November 2, 2019. He received his law degree from Baylor Law School and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1996.
Matthew Papagolos, 37, of Dallas, died December 11, 2019. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2013.
Michael L. Parham, 72, of Dallas, died December 2, 2019. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1973.
Federico G. Rodriguez, 79, of San Antonio, died May 18, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1967.
Charles B. Russell Jr., 91, of Wichita Falls, died November 16, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1957.
Oscar San Miguel, 64, of Austin, died December 2, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1987.
Paul Bryan Scott, 62, of Sweetwater, died August 14, 2019. He received his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1982.
Charles E. Soffar, 68, of Houston, died May 9, 2017. He received his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1972.
Brian L. Webb, 70, of Dallas, died November 8, 2019. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1975.
J. Sam Winters, 97, of Austin, died August 29, 2019. He received his law degree from the University of Texas School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1948.
Frank S. Wright, 85, of Dallas, died October 10, 2019. He received his law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 1961.
Kelly Yount, 48, of Boston, Massachusetts, died May 3, 2019. She received her law degree from Texas Wesleyan University School of Law and was admitted to the Texas Bar in 2002.

If you would like to have a memorial for a loved one published in the Texas Bar Journal, please go to texasbar.com/memorials. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Texas Bar Journal at 512-427-1701 or toll-free at 800-204-2222, ext. 1701.

TYLA Director Spotlight: Kaylan Dunn

Sat, 01/04/2020 - 23:01

Editor’s Note: In this blog series, we are getting to know the members of the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. TYLA, commonly called the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas, works to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All TYLA programs are accomplished through the volunteer efforts of its board and committee members, with the cooperation of local affiliate young lawyers associations. Learn more at tyla.org.

Name: Kaylan Dunn

Firm: Hunton Andrews Kurth

Area of Law You Practice: Commercial Litigation

Position Held in TYLA: District 6, Place 2 Director, Chair of Moot Court and Bookshelves in the Courtrooms

How did you get involved in bar service?

Hunton Andrews Kurth young lawyers have a long history of serving on the TYLA board. I witnessed firsthand the wonderful work TYLA was doing and knew I needed to be a part of it.

What is your favorite TYLA project and why?

State Moot Court—I love being able to help the next generation of young lawyers showcase their oral advocacy skills in front of some of the most well-respected lawyers and judges in the state. The lessons learned will serve the students well for their entire careers. It is great to be a small part of that.

What tips can you give to other attorneys to manage stress?

Don’t take yourself too seriously and surround yourself with people who make you laugh.

What do you do in your spare time?

I become a super hero, fire fighter, zombie, and pirate—I have a 4-year-old!

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I participated in the world’s largest tomato fight.

Entries sought for 2020 Texas Gavel journalism awards

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 12:18

Submissions are sought for the 2020 Texas Gavel Awards, which honor outstanding journalism that fosters public understanding of the legal system.

Entries published or broadcast during the 2019 calendar year will be accepted for print, broadcast, and online categories until 5 p.m. February 28. There is no entry fee.

The awards will be presented at the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas’ annual conference in September.

Texas Gavel Awards recognize excellence in journalism that educates the public about the rule of law, the legal profession, and the judicial branch of government; and discloses practices or procedures needing correction to improve the practice of law, the courts, or the justice system.

The Texas Gavel Awards program is coordinated and sponsored by the State Bar of Texas Public Affairs Committee. An independent panel of professionals will judge the entries.

The State Bar of Texas has created an online entry form to aid in the submission process. To view eligibility requirements, submission guidelines, and submit an entry, visit texasbar.com/gavelawards.

Texas Access to Justice Foundation awards grants in honor of 35th anniversary and John Grisham

Tue, 12/31/2019 - 13:24

The Texas Access to Justice Foundation, or TAJF, awarded grants to four legal aid organizations in honor of bestselling author John Grisham and the organization’s 35th anniversary.

TAJF is providing $75,000 grants to Legal Aid of NorthWest Texas, Lone Star Legal Aid, South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Project, and Texas RioGrande Legal Aid in Grisham’s honor. These grants will provide basic civil legal services to those in need in Texas.

“Speaking from personal experience John Grisham passionately recounted how having the help of a lawyer makes the vital difference for those struggling with legal challenges,” said Richard L. Tate, chair of the TAJF Board of Directors, in a news release. “We thank him for bringing this message to our 35th anniversary celebration and for his work to encourage others to make a difference.”

Grisham served as the keynote speaker of the foundation’s 35th anniversary dinner and donated his time and service on behalf of those in need of legal aid.

For more information about TAJF, go to teajf.org.

TYLA Director Spotlight: Johnathan Stone

Sun, 12/29/2019 - 07:00

Editor’s Note: In this blog series, we are getting to know the members of the Texas Young Lawyers Association Board of Directors. TYLA, commonly called the “public service arm” of the State Bar of Texas, works to facilitate the administration of justice, foster respect for the law, and advance the role of the legal profession in serving the public. All TYLA programs are accomplished through the volunteer efforts of its board and committee members, with the cooperation of local affiliate young lawyers associations. Learn more at tyla.org.

Name: Johnathan Stone

Company: Texas Medical Board

Area of Law You Practice: Civil Litigation, Administration and Health Law

Position Held in TYLA: District 8, Place 1 Director

How did you get involved in bar service? I became involved in bar service after participating in the LeadershipSBOT program.

What is your favorite TYLA project and why? I Was the First. You Can Be a Lawyer Too! (see iwasthefirst.tyla.org). I appreciate the stories and wish I’d had this resource when I was thinking about becoming an attorney.

What tips can you give to other attorneys to manage stress? Stress is the underlying cause of many health problems facing lawyers, from obesity to alcoholism. Attorneys should develop a stress management plan, either on their own or after meeting with a professional.

What do you do in your spare time? Dad stuff and audiobooks.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you? I was adopted.

Sorrels: New Member Benefit & Happy Holidays

Fri, 12/20/2019 - 09:17

Randy Sorrels

Editor’s Note: State Bar of Texas President Randy Sorrels sent the following message to members on December 20.

Colleagues,

On behalf of the State Bar of Texas, let me wish you a joyous and happy holiday season. I know there is much for each of us to celebrate. Now, let me tell you about three things:

1. Today (Friday, December 20), the State Bar of Texas launches a NEW member benefit with AT&T—an exclusive, limited-time discount that will get you up to $200 off a new smartphone when you switch to AT&T, add a phone line, or upgrade an existing line. This offer can be bundled with many of AT&T’s national offers. You can learn more about the AT&T benefit and view all of your State Bar of Texas member benefits .

2. This exclusive discount for Texas lawyers is due in large part to the efforts of AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel David McAtee. With efforts from State Bar of Texas Chair of the Board Jerry Alexander, great lawyer leaders fashioned a benefit for our members. Thank you David for working with us to make this discount happen, and thank you Jerry for being an impetus for this benefit. It’s a great example of the good that can come from members collaborating with the bar.

3. We know there are other Texas lawyers currently representing clients or working for companies or individuals who have other great products or services from which lawyers can benefit. If you are one of those lawyers, we would love to hear about a mutually beneficial relationship that provides new and useful State Bar member benefits. Call me or email me. I am working through the holidays and welcome your email at or your call at 713-222-7211 (office) or 713-582-8005 (cell).

Again, Happy Holidays and wishing you a healthy and fulfilling New Year.

Randy Sorrels

Stories of Recovery: My Moment of Clarity

Wed, 12/18/2019 - 17:44

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on March 15, 2016.

Editor’s note: TLAP offers confidential assistance for lawyers, law students, and judges with substance use or mental health issues. Call TLAP at 1-800-343-8527 (TLAP), text TLAP to 555888, or find more information at tlaphelps.org.

I knew for some time that I might have a genetic tendency to alcoholism. My mother had warned me about it. I had two uncles that died of it. My father was an alcoholic with multiple DWIs, dating back to his 30s. My older brother also had multiple DWIs.

I was different, though.

I did not have blackouts, legal problems, DWIs. I was a controlled drinker. I drank to a certain level and then stopped. The problem was that, over time, I drank more and more, beginning sooner and stopping later, until there was a point where there was no real beginning, or ending. I went from being the controller to the controllee. But still, I had never been arrested for an alcohol-related offense—or any offense for that matter—unlike my brother and father. I had no difficulties with clients, courts, or the State Bar.

They say you have a moment of clarity. My moment came one evening after everybody had gone to bed. I went to our wet bar to sneak a drink. My 10-year-old son came walking through the den and caught me. He looked at me in the same way that, many years before, I had looked at my father. My son had the same sad, disappointed look in his eyes.

We had a mirrored wet bar. When I turned back to the bar, the reflection I saw was of my father. I was no different. Alcohol had taken over my life as it had my father’s. I could no longer deny my problem.

Did I stop drinking? I tried many times. After the death of my partner, I drank all the time to kill the pain and to cope. Ironically, my brother invited me to my first AA meeting a few months after my partner’s death. We both had been drinking. At that meeting, I heard people share personal details that I could barely acknowledge, much less talk about. There was an instant affinity.

I was not alone. My deep, dark secrets could not be bottled up anymore. I knew I was in the right place.

A fellow attorney I knew approached me after the meeting and invited me to Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers. I began attending LCL meetings in addition to AA and talking with other lawyers in recovery who were of great assistance and comfort to me. I learned how to practice law without using alcohol to cope.

After that first AA meeting, I stopped drinking. My brother did not. He could never embrace the abstinence concept. He died of alcoholism on December 25, 2007, at the age of 58, after being hospitalized several times and being told in May of that year that he would die if he continued to drink.

What did I learn from AA? Right away, I learned to not drink, one day at a time. As simple as that sounds, it was a hard practice for me. I either lived in the present or the past. I was seldom where my hands were. I learned to live in the “now.” What a concept.

I worked the steps with a sponsor. I learned how to handle a stressful life differently, calmly and sanely, and without alcohol. I soon was able to sleep through the night without being attacked by the “night wolves.” I developed a continuing sense of peace and serenity. My horizons expanded.

I am more outward focused. I have a support group and friends that are always there for me, especially when things get dark or crazy.

I now have a genuine confidence that had previously eluded me. I once believed it impossible to change. You are who you are and you die that way. I now know it is possible to change. Transformation is possible. All you need is the proper motivation, openness, and willingness and a program like AA that will work if you apply yourself.

Register now for ABA TECHSHOW and save $150 with SBOT discount

Tue, 12/17/2019 - 12:29

Come network with legal technology experts from around the globe at the ABA TECHSHOW from February 26 to 29, 2020, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago.

State Bar of Texas members can save $150 on standard registration by using the discount code EP2021.

Through the expansive EXPO Hall, CLEs, presentations, and workshops, you will be able to get your questions answered and learn from the top legal professionals and tech innovators, all under one roof. Regardless of your expertise level, there’s something for you at ABA TECHSHOW.

Don’t forget to visit ABA TECHSHOW 2020 for current information.

Adopt-An-Angel Program spreads holiday cheer

Mon, 12/16/2019 - 15:00

The Houston Young Lawyers Foundation, or HYLF, and Houston Young Lawyers Association, or HYLA, will once again spread holiday cheer this year through the annual Adopt-An-Angel gift-giving program.

This year, more than 2,400 children from six Houston early childhood elementary schools and four private charities will benefit from the efforts of the program. During December, program volunteers will deliver gifts at the participating schools and charities and several schools will host delivery parties.

“The Adopt-An-Angel Program makes it easy to give back to the community that gives so much to us,” said Joe Savoie, an associate of Crain, Caton & James, in a news release. “We encourage anyone who is interested to get involved with the Adopt-An-Angel Program and make a difference in someone else’s life today.”

Adopt-An-Angel began more than 10 years ago as part of the Houston legal community’s mission to give back to the public. The program is co-chaired by Sherry Rodriguez, development director of Texas Can Academies-Houston; Samantha-Anne Howitch, general counsel to and chief compliance and human resources officer of Citelum US; and Dana Lizik, an attorney at the Johnson Law Group. The Adopt-An-Angel Committee organizes the program and coordinates over 2,000 volunteer attorneys from more than 80 Houston law firms and businesses and individual volunteers.

For more information about HYLA and HYLF, go to hyla.org.

State Commission on Judicial Conduct releases annual report

Mon, 12/16/2019 - 13:00

The State Commission on Judicial Conduct has released its fiscal year 2019 annual report covering activities from September 1, 2018, to August 31, 2019. It is available online at scjc.texas.gov/about/annual-reports/.

The State Bar of Texas Annual Report 2018-2019 can be found on the bar’s website. The Texas Young Lawyers Association Annual Report and the State Bar of Texas Commission for Lawyer Discipline Annual Report June 1, 2018-May 31, 2019 can be found online.

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